Student Discipline Consistency

Throughout the Focus Groups and the various one-on-one meetings I have had this summer, many of you have expressed concern around consistency. These concerns have not been focused on any single group with in our school.  Rather there has been a general frustration that all of us have been somewhat inconsistent in our enforcement of the expectations we have of students here at Athena.

Possible Reasons for Inconsistency: There seem to be many reasons for this inconsistency.  Some of these reasons might be:

  • differing values on the seriousness of the expectations
  • differing prioritization of what gets our attention
  • simply forgetting to address specific issues
  • wanting to avoid conflict
  • feeling that it isn’t worth the effort
  • not noticing something that someone else might notice

Whatever the reasons may be, it is clear that we are not as consistent regarding our responses to students who do not follow our expectations as we would like to be.

Cellphones (Just one example): Cellphones in the halls are a perfect example of this issue.  There is a Board of Education policy about phones. However, how we respond to phones is not clearly delineated by the Board’s guidelines.  The Board wisely provided us with latitude to respond to phones how we as a building would chose to respond. The following is a list of responses to cellphones in the hallway that I have been told reflect the differing ways adults address phones in the halls:

  • some confiscate phones when they are being used
  • some confiscate phones when they are visible, but not being used
  • some ask for them to be put away and wait until students comply
  • some ask for them to be put away and then continue walking
  • some ignore phones altogether.
Whatever your opinion on how we should apply the Board’s guidelines regarding phones, it is clear that as a building we are not unified on this issue.
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The Root Issue: The root issue here is not the phones… it is the students response to requests for their phones! It seems to me that until we are consistent in our response to phones, students will continue to be inconsistent in their response to our enforcement of the school expectations.
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Administration Discipline Consistency: The administrative team has spent a significant amount of time discussing issues pertaining to consistency.  We are looking forward to working together as an entire staff to address these concerns. In the meantime, we will continue to use a common discipline consistency guide for dealing with referrals.  This chart was used last year and will continue to be our guide as we seek to be consistent in our response to student discipline and referrals.   The chart is attached below. Please take time to review this document so you understand the process we will be take when receiving referrals.
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Disclaimer: As with policy or procedure, 100% consistency is not an easy thing to achieve.  Extenuating circumstances arise, and we must respond accordingly. This document will serve as our guide, not as a written-in-stone-holy-book.  If our response to a student discipline issue seems to fall outside of these guidelines, please speak with the administrator directly. Assume that we are working hard to address student discipline consistently. If something seems wrong, don’t hesitate to ask. It might be that there were extenuating circumstances of which you were not aware. On the other hand, it might be that we made a mistake… all humans do! We need feedback… all humans do!
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We are looking forward to a great and consistent year! Thanks for taking the time to read this post!
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